So! I have been a little MIA both in writing in general and life. For a ridiculous reason. That has to do with the greatest love story of our generation, aka Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson aka Larry Stylinson. (I will actually fight you if you say one bad word about either of them, or 1D. And if you feel the urge, just try listening to Walking in the Wind, 18, Happily, Where do broken hearts go, or through the dark. And then we’ll talk.)
But anyway, as its meant to, writing group forced me back into actually, well, writing. I’m a little blocked on Book Three so I have instead spent countless hours NOT writing Book Three. (#LarryStylinsonForLyfe) And maybe this helped a little. It reminded me that writing is fun and not always just a blank piece of paper that doesn’t want to be filled.
The May Prompt was mine, and it was an e.e. cummings poem (read here) that i find absolutely stunning and beautiful and contains one of the coolest sentences ever written. Both Abby and I only related to the prompt tangentially, but that was kind of the point. Enjoy!
Shawn heard the obnoxious country song about mothers and home and country long before he saw the white dusty pickup swinging around the last curve. He’d pushed off the peeling railing of the wraparound porch where he’d been lounging to make his way to the loose gravel of the driveway.
The truck kicked up dirt on the bumpy path up to the farmhouse, stopping just inches from where Shawn stood. He couldn’t quite bite back the grin that tugged at his lips when Kevin proceeded to lean out of the driver’s side window and warble Tommy Bryan’s already less than impressive high note in a faux serenade before he cut the engine off.
“You should go on tour,” Shawn said, his hands on his hips. Kevin “fuck you’d” his way out of the truck, hoisting a faded blue duffle over one shoulder and dropping to the driveway in one smooth motion. He grabbed the back of Shawn’s neck with one bear-claw hand pulling him tight against his chest. Shawn buried his nose in the dip of his brother’s shoulder and squeezed his eyes shut against the moisture that had gathered behind his lids. Fuck that, he thought. He wasn’t about to cry for the old bastard.
He coughed and extricated himself from the embrace, and ducked his head away from Kevin’s all-seeing eyes. He could always plead the dust had gotten to him. Even though Kevin wouldn’t believe him. He turned back to the house, leading the way, and his brother fell in step just behind him. “How was the drive?” he asked.
It was later, after a mostly silent dinner of steak and garlic mashed potatoes that they sat on the rocking chairs their parents used to occupy every sleepy summer night with a glass of madeira for Mom and a cold one for Dad. The brothers followed their father’s lead, each clutching the sweaty neck of a Coor’s Light.
Shawn counted the fireflies as they slowly lit up the cool blue sky of evening, and nostalgia gripped his esophagus with a tight fist as the memories flooded in. Dad taking him out to learn stick on the back country roads long before he should have been allowed behind a wheel; catching him with his first pack of cigarettes and making him smoke every last one until Shawn was so sick he never so much as picked up a lighter again; whipping his ass black and blue when Melody fell into the pond behind the house when Shawn was supposed to be watching her.
Kevin interrupted his thoughts when, after taking a long swig, he let the bottle fall heavy and loud onto the arm of his chair. “You gonna be alright, Shawny?”
There were the bills. Kevin would know this from the times they’d huddled together on the stairs as Dad had pored over stacks of official looking papers and cussed at Mom when she’d dared to interrupt him. There were always bill though. It was a reality of owning a farm. Hell, it was a reality of life.
There was the quiet. Shawn tried to get into town for Bingo night every Wednesday, but most of the time he could go the rest of the six days without talking to a single soul. Other than Frank, his foreman. But Shawn had always appreciated the isolation. Kevin had never really understood that.
Maybe it would be nice to have … but he shut that train of thought down before it could even properly formalize in his mind. That wouldn’t be possible. Not if he stayed in Texas.
“Yeah,” is all he said. Kevin nodded as if that were enough.
“You’re going to do the eulogy, alright?” Shawn said and it wasn’t a question.
Kevin glanced at him out of the corner of his eyes. “Sure.”
They were quiet once more, and the crickets came out and the air grew cold and Shawn brought them another round and one more after that and the sound of rocking chairs on the porch was enough for just then.
Until Kevin broke the blessed silence. “What happened with you two? At the end there?”
A few beers ago Shawn might not have said anything. But the buzz of alcohol and the night and the familiarity of his brother’s presence had worked on him.
“I told him,” he finally said.
“Fuckkkkkk me,” Kevin’s voice was soft and low and his boot dropped from the rail where it had been pushing in a gentle rhythm all night.
Shawn laughed without humor, and ran a tired hand over his creased brow, down to pinch at the bridge of his nose. “Well that sums it up perfectly.”
“So … I’m guessing he didn’t start flying the rainbow flag once you had this little conversation?”
“Oh, he went out that day and got it tattooed on his ass,” Shawn said. And they finally met eyes. Kevin broke out into a shit-eating grin and, despite it all, Shawn couldn’t help but match the amusement as they both pictured the scene.
“You know what. Fuck him,” Kevin said, turning back to stare into the void of the night. “We’ll have Melody do the eulogy.”